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They needed my blood

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- 'Service before self' all started 15 years ago at basic training as it does for most of us.  However in 2008 it took a new meaning for me during a base blood drive.  Sometime down the road I changed from doing the traditional whole blood donation once every eight weeks to sitting on the machine to donate platelets every other week.  It was just something I did. I had plenty of blood and if it could help someone else, I thought why not? The routine blood donation that I'd gotten into changed when I got a phone call for a special donation.

They needed my blood.  Normally I make a donation of platelets and plasma. Those donations are processed and stored until a hospital calls for it.  That's about all I know of what happens to my blood after it leaves my arm.  This was different. They needed my blood now. I had the right blood type, blood count, and I was cytomegalovirus (CMV) negative.   They wanted my granulocytes! Had to google it but google defined it as white blood cells.  In less than 48 hours I was in the donors chair with a needle in both arms. 

Still, this wasn't a normal donation; it really gave me a different feeling.  My blood wasn't going into storage until needed; this was going immediately to a little boy fighting for his life at Children's Mercy.  This donation felt more intimate. Before, I had never known to whom or where the donation was going.  This donation was going straight off the machine, into a vehicle and to Children's Mercy; in just five hours, my white blood cells would be in that boy fighting for him.

I love serving my country and my state as an Airman and Guardsman, but the service doesn't stop there.  Who we are as military members, and how you support the community is in your hands.  Maybe you're not into needles or blood but if you can I would highly suggest stopping by your local Community Blood Center (CBC) or check out the next blood drive we have on base.  It was only through my donations that the CBC even knew my blood could be used to save that child.  Who knows what life you can save?

About the author: Staff Sgt. Eric Stitt is a fuels specialist at the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, and a regular blood donor.